Over the past three years the UK has been in limbo; are we leaving the European Union (EU) or are we staying? After some delays, we have now left the EU and entered an 11-month transition period.

Right now, your driving licence is valid in the EU. You’re free to drive, for work or pleasure, with a UK licence and don’t need any additional documents. If you move to another EU country, you can exchange your driving licence for one from your new home country – without having to retake a driving test.

But what is this transition period and what does it mean for you?

Driving in the EU: Fees and permits

Transition period:

The rules on travel visas or the International Driving Permit (IDP) remain the same during the transition period.

After the transition period (note that this might be delayed and whilst we can guess what might change, nothing is yet formally agreed):

You won’t need to buy a visa to travel in the EU, but you’ll have to pay 7€ (£6.30) every three years for an ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) document, expected to come in place from 2021.

You might also need to get an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in the EU. Luckily these only cost £5.50 and are available at post offices on a quick turn-up-and-go basis. This requirement would apply to both driving your own car or hiring a car at the destination.

You’d need to plan this ahead as there are different types of IDP, based on what country you’re driving in. One is valid for 12 months in Ireland, Spain, Cyprus and Malta, and another is valid for 3 years and recognised in the rest of the EU countries, and Norway and Switzerland. There is now also a third type of permit. This means you might need to buy several IDPs, if you’re travelling through multiple countries.

Not having the correct IDP could get you turned away at the border or result in fines. You might also need to make sure your passport is valid for a minimum of six months.

Brexit and car insurance: International Motor Insurance Certificate (IMIC)

Transition period:

You don’t need an IMIC (formerly known as Green Card) to drive in the EU during the transition period.

After the transition period (note that this might be delayed and whilst we can guess what might change, nothing is yet formally agreed):

You might need to carry an additional certificate to prove you have third party motor insurance cover, when driving in the EU, EEA, Andorra, Serbia or Switzerland.

You can request an IMIC from your insurer, otherwise you’d need to buy local insurance in the country you’re travelling to. Without a proof of third party insurance, you might not be allowed to drive or get fined. You might also be required to get separate insurance for trailers, meaning you’ll need a separate IMIC too.

Have a look at our FAQs for more information.

Living in an EU country: Licence exchange

Transition period:

You’re not required to change your driving licence even if you’re living in an EU country.

After the transition period (note that this might be delayed and whilst we can guess what might change, nothing is yet formally agreed):

If you’re a UK licence holder living in the EU or you’re planning to move to an EU country after the Brexit date, you might not have the right to drive with your UK driving licence anymore. Depending on the laws of your new home country, you might need to retake a driving test.

If you think this might affect you, exchange your UK licence for an EU one in advance. With increased demand the processing times can take longer so the sooner you prepare the better. You can drive with your EU licence when visiting the UK and you’ll be able to re-exchange it, if you return permanently.

Road accidents in the EU: Making a claim

Transition period:

Whilst in the transition period, the UK is still part of the Protection of Visitors arrangement and claims can be made through UK-based claims representatives, if you have an accident abroad.

After the transition period (note that this might be delayed and whilst we can guess what might change, nothing is yet formally agreed):

The UK might withdraw from the Protection of Visitors, meaning that UK residents might not be able to make a claim through UK-based Claims Representatives or the Motor Insurer’s Bureau (MIB) for an accident that’s happened within the EU. Claims would need to be made directly to the foreign insurer or the foreign equivalent of MIB.

UK vehicle identification: Plates and stickers

Transition period:

A GB distinguished number plate, or a sticker, show that you’re driving a UK-registered vehicle abroad. You don’t have to change your registration plate during the transition period, and you’re not required to put a separate GB sticker on your car – for now.

After the transition period (note that this might be delayed and whilst we can guess what might change, nothing is yet formally agreed):

Maybe you have a ‘Euro-plate’, showing both the EU flag and a GB sign, but after the transition period you might need a GB sticker in addition, or have to replace your Euro-plate with a number plate featuring the GB sign without the EU flag.

 

Sources:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/prepare-to-drive-in-the-eu-after-brexit
https://www.mib.org.uk/driving-abroad-eu-exit/
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/driving-in-the-eu-if-theres-no-brexit-deal/driving-in-the-eu-if-theres-no-brexit-deal
https://www.rac.co.uk/drive/travel/driving-abroad/international-driving-permits-and-brexit/
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-45512152
https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Implementing-the-UKs-Exit-from-the-European-Union-Summary.pdf
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/vehicle-insurance-if-theres-no-brexit-deal/vehicle-insurance-if-theres-no-brexit-deal
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-46564884